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Origins and Consequences of European Crises: Global Views on Brexit

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Edited By Birte Wassenberg and Noriko Suzuki

Almost sixty years after the signature of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 creating the European Community), a Member-State, the United Kingdom, has for the first time in history decided to leave the European Union. The "yes" to leave vote during the British referendum on 26 June 2016 led to the use of Article 50 of the EU Treaty triggering off a long period of negotiations between the UK and the EU, which was overshadowed by a permanent struggle between the options of a "deal" or a "no-deal". The Withdrawal Agreement was finally signed on 24 January 2020 and Brexit actually took place on 31 January 2020 – more than three and a half years after the referendum. It is not surprising that a lot of analyses have been put forward to explain the British electoral result, mainly from the perspective of political sociology. However, there has been less research so far on the deeper roots of Brexit as a historical and political process and its development from the start of the referendum campaign until the end of the negotiations between the UK and the EU, nor on its possible social, economic, legal and (geo)political consequences.

In order to examine the origins and consequences of Brexit, this publication develops two original perspectives. On the one hand, it has taken a pluridisciplinary approach comparing the point of views of sociologists, political scientists, legal experts and historians. On the other hand, it has adopted a global approach by comparing the analyses of Japanese, Canadian, American and European researchers. These "Global Views on Brexit" regroup the contributions to an international Conference on "The Consequences of Brexit" organised on 6-7 December 2018 in Strasbourg, in the framework of the Jean Monnet project on Crises in European Border Regions supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union (EU) for the period from 2018-2020.

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Brexit’s Territorial Externalities (Jeremy Sacramento & Jaume Castan Pinos)

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Jeremy Sacramento & Jaume Castan Pinos

The United Kingdom formally left the European Union on 31st January 2020, following the Brexit referendum of June 2016. It is becoming increasingly obvious that Brexit has unleashed various negative and unintended effects, which were not considered or acknowledged, at least not sufficiently, by the proponents of the British withdrawal from the EU during the referendum campaign. This article will focus on these consequences, referring to them as “externalities”. Chief amongst these is the potential destabilisation of the UK’s territorial interests in Scotland, Gibraltar and Northern Ireland.

Even though the British withdrawal has been effectuated, at the time of writing most details about the Future Agreement remain unclear, and of course this might have critical implications for the territorial consequences discussed here. We therefore acknowledge the difficulty of analysing a situation which is ongoing and susceptible to transformations. Despite these challenges, we are confident that our examination will be able to shed light on a dimension of Brexit which was largely neglected prior to the referendum.

Sovereignty, in the sense of “taking back control” and the restoration of decision-making powers, was one of the arguments of “Leave” supporters during the referendum campaign. Indeed, those advocating for Brexit argued that leaving the EU would “save” the UK’s sovereignty, stressing that the UK would be able to gain control over crucial policies ←195 | 196→such as the economy, migration and justice.1 The paradox is that Brexit seems to have compromised,...

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